Manchester City Boosted by Early Return of Defender Matija Nastasic

Karl MatchettFeatured ColumnistAugust 16, 2013

SO KON PO, HONG KONG - JULY 27: Matija Nastasic #33 of Manchester City is taken from the field after suffering an injury during the Barclays Asia Trophy Final match between Manchester City and Sunderland at Hong Kong Stadium on July 27, 2013 in So Kon Po, Hong Kong.  (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images for FA Premier League)
Chris McGrath/Getty Images

Manchester City have received a welcome piece of news on the eve of the new Premier League season, with the revelation that centre-back Matija Nastasic will return sooner than expected from injury.

The Serbian defender injured his ankle on the treacherous pitch in the Asia Trophy preseason tournament and was initially ruled out for up to six weeks. In spite of that, he is now ready to resume training, report BBC Sport, little more than two weeks after sustaining the initial injury.

New City manager Manuel Pellegrini will be pleased by the quick recuperation of one of City's best performers from last season, with his absence leaving the Etihad Stadium club short of numbers in the centre of defence. While Vincent Kompany and Joleon Lescott are experienced campaigners in the centre, Nastasic's injury would have meant one of the likes of Micah Richards or Javi Garcia covering out of their primary positions if another option was required.

Instead, Nastasic is now set to potentially miss just one competitive match, with Pellegrini telling the BBC, "He is not ready for the next match but next week he will work normally with the whole squad."

Nastasic joined City from Fiorentina last summer as former defender Stefan Savic traveled the same career path in reverse and performed admirably in his 21 appearances during his debut season in the Premier League. Indeed, Nastasic lost just two of his attempted tackles last season as he demonstrated admirable technical ability in defence.

At just 20 years old he has already proven himself a talented enough player to be a regular in the full Serbia national team lineup, winning nine caps so far. Also, given the lack of top competition in that area of the pitch, he will be looking to make a regular first-team spot his own for Manchester City this season.

Despite City spending close to £100 million on four new signings during the close season, none have been defenders, while Kolo Toure has departed to lessen further the depth available to the manager. Jesus Navas, Fernandinho, Alvaro Negredo and Stevan Jovetic—a former teammate of Nastasic's at Fiorentina—are City's summer signings to date.

Pellegrini will, along with trying to win back the title they won two seasons ago, attempt to bring through more young players into the City first team after Roberto Mancini was in part criticised for not doing this. Although he was a regular in the side last year, Nastasic is still certainly a young player who can have a big future for his club, and getting regular game time under the new manager this term will be a welcome sight for all involved.

Manchester City play Newcastle United on Monday, Aug. 19, to get their new season underway, meaning the away trip to Cardiff City could mark Nastasic's return to action on the following Sunday.